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Nigeria owes $4.85b to China, India & others

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By Abraham Adekunle

The country’s external debt has risen by over 200% in the last seven years.

Recently, published data has shown that Nigeria owes about $4.85 billion to five countries. This debt was accrued in the last seven years during the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. During this period, Nigeria’s external debt skyrocketed by over 200 percent. Most of this debt is owed to countries such as India, Japan, China, France and Germany. The Debt Management Office (DMO) have revealed in recent documents that the Federal Government borrowed about $3.27 billion from five countries between June 30, 2015, and September 30, 2022.

The DMO data on these loans showed that within the period, the government’s borrowings from five countries spiked by 206.96 percent from $1.58 billion in 2015 to $4.85 billion by September 2022. In mid-2015, Nigeria borrowed $1.39 billion from China Exim Bank, $140.25 million from France’s Agence Francaise Development, $43.10 million from Japan International Corporation Agency, and $11.73 million from Germany’s Kreditstanstalt Fur Wiederaufbua. The country’s bilateral debt stock increased with Nigeria’s owing China $4.09 billion.

China is Nigeria’s biggest bilateral creditor in decades.

In total, the new data revealed that Nigeria owes France $526.48 million, Japan $57.11 million, Germany $153.06 million, and India $27.17 million. The data shows that Nigeria got its first debt from India during the Buhari administration – a sum of $14.79 million from the Asian country. However, over the decades, China has remained Nigeria’s biggest bilateral creditor. The Nigerian government sought to borrow from the Chinese government to execute several projects such as standard gauge rail lines.

One of the documents that the DMO released showed that the Federal Government financed 15 projects with Chinese loans. Four of these projects are on rails. Nigeria’s current bilateral debt is put at 12.24 percent with a total external debt of $39.66 billion. This is excluding external debts owed by states. Nigeria’s debt has spiked from $10.32 billion on June 30, 2015 to $40.06 billion as of June 30, 2022. This covers external debts by both the Federal Government and states.

National Assembly to restructure N22.7trn debt.

The data showed that there has been an increase of 288.18 percent in seven years. As the Nigerian government struggles to service its bloating debt burden, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has stated that the upper legislative chamber is willing to approve the N22.7 trillion request made by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2022. It was on December 28, 2022 that the Senate rejected President Buhari’s request for the approval of N23.8 trillion CBN loans.

Lawan accused the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, of stalling the process by delaying the provision of the requisite documents with details of the ways and means to advance. The press reports that the lawmakers, led by Rivers West Senator Betty Apiafi, opposed the securitization of the CBN advances collected by the Nigerian government in the last ten years as well as the recently requested one-trillion-Naira domestic Loan.

Buhari signed the 2023 budget of N21.83 trillion into law.

Nigeria’s debt could rise to N77 trillion ($172 billion) from N44 trillion as of September 2022. The chief of DMO said that this would be after a loan-to-bond swap and new borrowings to fund the 2023 budget. President Muhammadu Buhari signed the 2023 budget of N21.83 trillion into law on January 3, 2023, and said the country would pay N1.8 trillion ($4 billion) in extra interest this year if parliament rejects the loan-to-bond swap request.


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